Sunday, April 09, 2006

It’s Another One. . .

Birthday, that is. Yep, today’s my birthday and I’m 18, but for the 3rd time!!

I don’t know why, maybe its been the ‘reflecting’ as I wrote up some of my career experiences, maybe it’s the inevitable assessment that I seem to go through as this day approaches, but, whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking about the 3rd ‘18’ coming to a close.

The 1st eighteen years were pretty typical I think. The first half filled with play and fantasy, the second filled with the wonder of women, and anxiety about how to get closer to them. Add to that the awkward late teen period where I’d figured out how to get close, but not quite how to keep them close (or maybe more to the point, close enough)!

The 2nd was a ‘heady’ time, joined the Navy, got married, finished college, bought my first house, found my love of firefighting and learning, landed my first ‘real’ job, started my first business, went on to start a second, and third business.

I think I learned far more in the second 18, than I ever did in the first… Maybe that’s the way it is, the onset of adulthood bringing with it a rush of new experiences and learning… maybe it was because I really did not have a clue as to where I “fit” in the scheme of things… I know on many days I felt like an outsider, looking in on, life.

I wonder sometimes, is it the same for everyone? That “Phase II”, where they seek out and attempt many different paths, until they find one that feels good to their feet? Or was the struggle I went through… uniquely mine… one other folks are spared the pain, and joy of?

This third leg has been fairly busy too… I bought my 2nd, 3rd and 4th homes, got divorced, and remarried, found a way to get back into motorcycling. Took the kinds of motorcycle trips I’d always wanted to. Reach a ‘pinnacle’, of sorts, in my career… then turned my back on the peak to return to an earlier spot I liked much better.

All in all, this 3rd leg has been the best so far.

Not that the other’s weren’t great, because they were, and I wouldn’t trade a moment of them for anything.

This last 18 though, has been special, to me. I think I really came to grips with “me” in this period of time. I sort of found my groove as they say…. I stopped living for the approval of others, and started living, working and playing in ways “I” approved of. In some ways, I think I’m harder on myself than anyone else ever was, but, when I meet my own expectations there’s a satisfaction I never felt back then.

I’ve discovered that I really don’t care about what other people think about my career ‘level’… that, for me, it really is about the ‘work’… it was the work when I was an auto mechanic, a firefighter and now a developer.

I recall the minion of a previous employer alluding to the fact that the company desired to move me away from development, and more into the ‘financial’ aspect of the business saying "The company has far better uses for a man of your intelligence." My response to him was “If there’s no development going on here, there’s no place for me here, developing software, is what gets me out of bed in the morning, not the financial stuff.” I remember that look on his face as well, one of shock and astonishment that I had no desire for the path he was mapping out for me.

That day, coupled with several other events, led to our parting ways, and my current role as a contract developer. Those of you who are regulars here know how much fun I’m having with this new (renewed?) career. I only hope he’s as happy with his choice, as I am with mine. Yes, there are still things I don’t like, and things I love, but, the difference is, I’m doing what I want to do, not what someone else wanted me to do.

So what will the next 18 bring? I remember thinking I’d never survive the first 18, that I would live to see 21 was not something I thought would ever happen… but it did. I find myself wondering if I’ll survive the next 18, and if I do what life will be like then. Will I ‘settle in’ to retirement? Will I actually be able to retire? Will I manage to gather up enough in savings to ‘enjoy’ retirement?

When all is said and done, I don’t know any more about the next 18, than I did about any of the previous phases… One thing has changed though; I know I’ll be walking through the next 18, not running. I’ll still approach everything with the passion I bring to everything I do, a sort of anticipation, a wonder, of, “what will happen if’ kind of thing.

I hope, that I’m around 18 years from now, to reflect once more on the events and achievements that have marked the period in my life. There’s only one thing I’m sure will go unchanged. I’ll walk my path, my way.

I hope you do the same.

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Mandy said...

Happy 3rd time round "18"
Hope you have a lovely day.

"You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now."

I'm also in my 3rd round.. and enjoying every moment of it :)

Nina said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! May the next 18 years be the best yet!

Bill said...

Mandy - 1st, welcome... and thanks for taking the time to comment!

We can only live today, now, becuase that's all we get, is now!

I'm glad you're enjoying the 'round'... did you find the first two were similar for you?

Nina Thank You! I know you're living in the best time of your life... it's in everything you write!

Thanks for stopping by.

Mandy said...

The first two were very similar, yes. These next 18 (I'm into my 3rd year) are proving to be very different, and I must admit.. the best so far.

Still, I have a way to go yet before this 'round' is up.

Thanks for commenting on my blog :)

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...


I am also in my "3rd round" - - in fact, getting darned near the end of it (next year, in fact!). And, like you, the 3rd round has definitely been the best!

I hope your day was a very special one!


Bill said...

Mandy - You're welcome of course, I enjoyed reading your blog.

I'm glad you also are finding these to be the best years yet!

Liz - Thanks, we've had a great day!

I was pretty sure you were "livin' life"... You and Steve have too much fun at the 'Tractor Store' not to be!!

Karyn Lyndon said...

Happy Birthday! With a life as full as yours it doesn't sound like you wasted a minute of it. I hope the next 15 are just as eventful so you'll have plenty to blog about!

Joe Fiala said...

Happy Birthday, Bill!

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...

I'm never gonna live down the "Tractor Store" post, am I . . . *laugh*

Wait until you read my post about this past weekend's trip to "Hoosier-land" - - you will REALLY wonder about us then! :-)

Beth said...

I wanted to say a belated happy birthday! I hope the 4th time around really is the best yet!

Bill said...

Karyn - Well, for a good part of it I never expected to reach 21, let alone 30... so I was tryng to squeeze a lot in!! Thanks! :)

Joe - Thanks, with any luck I'll have some more firefighting stories for you soon!

Liz - I hope you never live it down, or stop having as much fun as you do!! and Thanks!

Beth - Thanks... I hope you're 100% correct, it would certainly be sweet if they are!

Ilene said...

Well, I have been dragging my feet on blogging and reading blogs so belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Here I am 8 years into my 4th set of 18's and loving every minute of it. It seems to me that everything is new again for me - new home - new car - new life - new love and I am old enough to appreciate it - this being me - doing it my way! Ah sweet victory of life at last I found it and it took all the experiences of the first three 18's to know it. Hope you had a great Birthday!

Firehawk said...


Funny, but my birthday was on the 6th. I'm still a few years away from the 2nd 18th birthday, but I think, thus far, I'd take the second over the first. The idea of high school and the surrounding time being "the best time of your life" is probably BS for most of us. If you hit your peak at 17 or 18, I'm sorry for you. That'd be a long, sad road.

Thanks for writing another good thought in. Happy Birthday, and many more "18s" to come!

Bill said...

ilene - I've often said that life is a lot like mtorcycling... the more you know, the better it gets! I'm glad you're finding it gets beeter as well!

Firehawk - I couldn't agree more! I've met some of my old high school classmates, who definitely peaked then... They sure seemed tired and cynical... I'd definitely choose peaking on my last day!

As always, I'm glad I wrote one that made ya think!